what you can do to live free!

On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston – an experienced hiker – was climbing alone in Horseshoe Canyon, Utah. As he descended a slot canyon a 360kg boulder dislodged, crushing and pinning his right arm against the canyon wall. 

Ralston was trapped for five days – rationing his food and water, drinking his own urine, and eventually slipping in and out of consciousness and delirium. On May 1, he infamously amputated his own arm (you might want to read that back again to get the full gravitas)!! He cut his own arm off! He fashioned a tourniquet, broke the ulna and radius bones and then sawed through his skin, veins and nerves with a largely blunt knife (I hope you read that quickly because – ew!).

Once free, he had to rappel down a 20m wall (one handed) and hike the 13km to his vehicle. He met a group of hikers on the path who gave him food and drink and alerted authorities (who had commenced searching after Ralston’s family reported him missing). He had lost 25% of his blood volume and 18kg of overall weight. 

It is an amazing, barely believable story. The lengths he went to in order to be free. It causes us all to wonder what we would do in a similar situation. The extremity of his circumstances clearly propelled him to act beyond what a person would otherwise even consider let alone be capable of. 

Ralston was determined to free himself from the rock because he knew his prospects there were slim and getting slimmer. He knew that so long as he remained pinned to that rock the likelihood of dying in that place would increase. He determined to be free – at the cost of his arm and unimaginable pain and discomfort. So much so that he reported he was “looking forward to the amputation and the freedom it would give.” 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” 

– Galatians 5:1

Paul reminds us that the price for our freedom has been paid by Jesus on the cross so we can LIVE free. The eternal consequence of our sin has been sorted, we’re restored to relationship with Father God, life to the fullest is on offer – freedom.

But do you ever feel stuck? Trapped? Ever feel weighed down? Or burdened? Ever feel bound to a habit or caught in an unhealthy relationship? Ever feel pinned down by guilt or shame? Ever overwhelmed with regret or entangled by sin?

That is not the language of freedom! Those experiences are not the marks of free people!

If Jesus has done what’s necessary FOR freedom – perhaps we have to look at what WE need to be doing to LIVE free?

Aron was willing to do whatever was necessary to release himself from his trapped position. 

What do you need to let go of to release yourself to live free? What drastic, maybe even painful, measures might you take to free yourself? What hard decisions, painful disciplines, difficult conversations, deliberate re-learnings, or intentional first steps do you need to action to see you move toward the freedom Christ desires for you? 

3 better choices than “not saying anything at all” 

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all!” – Thumper, Bambi

I’m sure we’ve all heard this quote (or a version of it – possibly without the double negative!) at some point in our lives. Our parents used it to kerb our critical opinions – particularly when we defended our outbursts because they were the “truth”. But then, we’ve probably all used it ourselves. Mostly as a passive aggressive (emphasis on the aggressive) way to say that we have a negative opinion but we’re far too polite to tell you what it is. Yes, because that’s an effective way of defusing a conflict – at no point ever in the history of defusing conflict!!!!

I love Kid President’s rewording. 

Here are three options to “not saying anything at all”. 

Choice #1 – think harder 

Emotion, defensiveness, fear and tiredness can all make us feel there is nothing nice to say. In times when our thoughts, feelings or option seem overwhelmed by the negative, we all can pause and think harder. 

Where is the potential positive? What can be encouraged or affirmed? What can be understood or explained? What alternate perspective could be explored? 

Choice #2 – choose honesty 

“Not saying anything at all” is a choice to withhold truth. Sure, there are times and places where hearing the truth would be more palatable but the truth is always our friend. 

In fact, the truth from a friend is the best. It’s better than a withheld criticism and it’s certainly better than silence – where we are left to guess what the other is thinking. 

Choice #3 – choose empathy

Any attempts we make to feel what another might be feeling will stand us in good stead to make a better response than silence. 

What might they be fearing? What disappointment might they be anticipating? What questions might they be asking? What insecurity or jealousy buttons are being pushed?